Miles Davis - trumpet; Wayne Shorter - tenor and soprano saxophones; Chick Corea - electric piano; Dave Holland - bass; Jack DeJohnette - drums; Airto Moriera - percussion
Miles Davis, opening a bill that also featured the Steve Miller Band and headliners Neil Young and Crazy Horse, exemplifies the musical diversity that Bill Graham often embraced at the Fillmores. This historic stint of shows began a major crossroads in Miles Davis' career. This night and the next were the first time Miles played before a rock audience after years of performing in smoky, dark club settings. From all accounts, this was an eye opening experience for the audience, as well as for Miles himself.
This show finds Miles, an artist never content to stand still, firmly entrenched in a new musical direction that would blur the lines between rock and jazz forever. A jazz musician embracing instruments both electric and amplified was relatively unheard of in 1970. Due to the extraordinary musicianship of Miles' band at this time and its tendency to play continuously for an entire set, it can be difficult for the casual listener to take it all in. Rather than announce a song to the audience, or to his band for that matter, Miles would play a coded phrase to signal the musicians to transition into another direction.
This era of Miles' music would have a profound influence on younger jazz musicians, the progressive rock movement in Europe, as well as rock musicians like the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix. This was the beginning of a five year stretch where Miles would take his music to an intensity level that few have ever matched. Concentrated listening is required to truly appreciate Miles' music in the early 1970s. This night at the Fillmore East demonstrates all of the above, but is slightly less adventurous and aggressive than the following night, when the group really cuts loose. The basic structure to the setlist is the same for both the early and late shows but the improvisations take each set in distinctive directions. These recordings, made by Columbia Records in hopes of releasing a live album, capture a key moment in the history of jazz, if not of modern music in general.
-Written by Alan Bershaw